Ground breaks at Rosebank distillery site as construction begins

Ground has officially been broken at the Rosebank distillery, marking the start of its highly anticipated redevelopment under new owners, Ian Macleod Distillers.

Published 18th Nov 2019
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The extensive, multi-million pound restoration is expected to be completed in Summer 2021, when the once lost distillery will open its doors to the public and begin production once again.

Situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the iconic distillery has lain dormant for a quarter of a century, after it was mothballed in 1993 by former owner UDV (now Diageo) and its maltings were converted into a restaurant.

Rosebank Distillery
Workers begin work on the renovation of the site.

At the time, it was feared the whisky - one of the most respected and sought-after Lowland Scotch whiskies and often referred to as the ‘King of the Lowlands’ – would be gone forever, until Ian Macleod Distillers acquired the Rosebank brand and last remaining stocks in October 2017.

In January 2019 they were granted permission to revive the distillery and have since been putting plans in place to breathe new life into the grounds.

Expansive plans for the 1,000-square metre, energy-efficient distillery includes a state-of-the-art visitor centre, tasting room, shop and warehouse among the canal-side buildings. The other side of the distillery will look strikingly different, with a modern, glass-fronted stillroom.

The iconic 108ft chimney stack, which has become an instantly recognisable landmark in Falkirk, will remain right in the middle, connecting Rosebank’s past with its future.

Ian Macleod Distillers will also replace all distillery equipment, including three stills for triple distillation, plus worm tub condensers – allowing them to employ the same unique distillation techniques for which Rosebank is famed.

Once open, Rosebank distillery is expected to generate 25 full time jobs and attract around 50,000 visitors a year to Falkirk. It will offer a wide range of distillery tours, with some featuring the very last drams of Rosebank distilled prior to the 1993 closure.

Mike Younger, finance director of Ian Macleod Distillers, owners of Rosebank, said: “This ground-break is an iconic milestone - it marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for both Rosebank and Ian Macleod Distillers.

“Our vision was to bring this quintessential Lowland single malt back to life and ensure it could live on for generations to come. A dream that is now very much underway.

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“More than ever, there is a real want for a Rosebank revival. It has now become somewhat of a collectors’ item, with bottles of 12 Year Old selling at auction for £350 plus - so there will be a lot of people excited to hear that work is officially under way.

“We have quite the road ahead and look forward to sharing our journey with you all.”

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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